'Downfield' is the brick building in the centre of the image above. It stands between Largo St David's Church and Court House and is in fact on the site of the original church. Initially known as 'Largo Relief Church', the original building was erected in 1771. The congregation at that time was largely made up of folk that had previously attended church in Kirkton of Largo but had broken away in protest over the appointment of a new minister. As the 'Historical Sketch' of Largo St David's Church states:
"Those who left Largo Kirk met for worship in the open air until Mr Durham himself granted them a site on which to erect a Church. This site is next to the present building in the area now occupied by "Downfield"."
This church was in use for a century before the present church building was erected alongside it in 1871-72. The original church was demolished and the plot lay empty for over a decade before the five-dwelling building now known as Downfield was built. The annotated maps below show the changes to the site over the period from around 1850 to 1910.
The original proprietor of Downfield seems to have been David Gillies the net manufacturer, as it is his name that appears on the 1895 valuation roll as owning the building. Interestingly, the brick building has echoes of the Cardy Net House - particularly the chimney design. David Gillies is known to have designed and built Cardy House and Cardy Works himself with assistance from his joiner siblings. He is listed in the Dictionary of Scottish Architects. There seems to be a good chance that he was the architect of Downfield and recreated the brick work style of Cardy Works.
One of the early tenants was fisherman John Bisset. He was living in one of the dwellings at the time of the 1891 census with his wife Helen (nee Horne) and their daughters Grace and Georgina. In 1891 the building had not yet acquired the name Downfield. By the time of the 1900 valuation roll John Bisset had become the proprietor of Downfield and the name of the property had been established. Presumably he had purchased the building from David Gillies at some point after his career change from fisherman to mine manager at Teasses Colliery.
When Mr Bisset died in 1931, the St Andrews Citizen noted that he owned an extensive poultry farm at Buckthorns and was "a native of Largo" who "spent his early years as a fisherman before going to Teuchats Farm, where he also managed the Lime Works. He was for fourteen years in charge of the pumps at Durie Colliery. He left Teuchats and entered upon the tenancy of Buckthorns Farm in 1914. Mr Bisset took a keen interest in the development of Largo as a summer resort and was an active member of the committee for the improvement of the pier."
The name 'Downfield' could possibly have come from the Downfield estate between Kettle and Montrave which also had collieries and lime works, which perhaps John Bisset once had a connection to. If anyone can confirm the origin of the name - please comment. Below is an advert for the sale of Downfield in 1946 (30 October Leven Mail) which describes the layout and facilities at that time.